I’ve just finished reading Mark Thomas’ Extreme Rambling, a fascinating and funny account of the comedian’s attempt to walk the route of Israel’s security barrier. It isn’t a book that is likely to appeal to any of Israel’s apologists, though his route took in both sides of the fence and the effects of terrorism are acknowledged from the first. By its nature, this is an anecdotal account rather than a rigorous political analysis but in the end the stories of individuals and families matter more than grand political narratives.
I’ve not been in the habit of posting book reviews, and I’m not intending to start now. Thomas concludes that while the usual rationale given for the barrier is security, “This barrier of wire and concrete is a blunt instrument of complex desires but, unfold them, and this wall, this fence, this military barrier, is the continuation of the conflict in concrete and wire form. It imposes a de facto border, creating a one-sided ’solution’ achieved not through negotiation but through subjugation. It claims security but grabs land, which settlers then build upon. It is no mere protective shield but a military entity which … has the added intent of destroying a possible Palestinian state.”
This is not a book that will convince a Zionist. (I doubt such a book exists) But if you want to understand something of the barrier’s effects on those who live in its shadow, this would not be a bad place to start.